Four Social Games Companies In Hot Water
Posted on 2018-04-18 by Sean Williamson
Four online games companies have landed in hot water due to their digital casino offerings constituting illegal gambling under Washington State Law. Lawsuits have been filed against Huuuuge Games, DoubleDown Interactive, High 5 Games and Playtika. These companies all offer typical free-to-play casino games, also known as social casino games.
Whilst the argument is that the chips that are used to play these games are not worth actual money, it’s also true that real money is used to purchase the chips and that the games in question cannot be played without these chips. This comes down to the chips having some form of monetary value, after all. By this standard, free-to-play games do constitute gambling under Washington law.
These lawsuits will have a ways to go yet, but concerns are rife due to many companies favouring free-to-play games with the option of in-app purchases, as this is where their actual revenue is generated.
Big Fish Games
This is not the first time that free-to-play casino games have come under intense fire. The Ninth Circuit of US Court of Appeals recently ruled that the social casino games offered by Big Fish Games did in fact constitute gambling.
Not only can the games on offer at Big Fish Games not be accessed without first having purchased virtual chips, but the games on offer represent actual casino games like Roulette, Poker, Blackjack and even slots.
A player will either have the option of purchasing more virtual chips when these run out, or waiting for a pre-specified time for the chips to be replenished, which is of course, a total fun-crusher. Players are much more likely to purchase more chips in order to continue playing than waiting for virtual chips to magically appear after a time.
The ruling made in the case against Big Fish Games is expected to have consequences for all four of the newly instituted lawsuits, as a certain president and standard has now been set in terms of social casino games in general.
The ruling will most likely also affect all future rulings, which will have lasting consequences for the social casino industry in general. The social casino market was worth a little more than $3 billion last year, which is of course, not small change.
Many companies are involved in the casual games market and although these companies do not offer games under the auspices of casino games, it’s quite obvious that the judicial system has now cottoned on to the fact that there’s much more to it than what meets the eye.